UoN Coral Reef Research Project
Travelling to a tropical Pacific Island doesn’t just have to be about lounging on the beach soaking up some rays and enjoying a break from civilisation. In a unique University of Newcastle project, a trip to Hideaway Island offers staff, students and the wider community an opportunity to get hands-on research experience working on projects associated with protecting and regenerating coral reefs in the area.
Hideaway Island is exactly as its name suggests - a tiny coral atoll located off Melè Bay away from the hustle and bustle of busy Port Villa in tropical Vanuatu. It is also a destination for divers, given its extensive coral reefs encircling the island. It is these coral reefs that the staff and students of the University of Newcastle are working to protect.
University of Newcastle marine science lecturer, Ken Zimmerman, leads two research trips per year that focus on transplanting coral to the marine park on Hideaway Island. Those who join Ken on these trips help observe and collect data on the existing reefs. Upon their return, the participants will be able to continue to monitor the effects of their work via an underwater webcam.
As a community participant, you have the opportunity to get involved as much or as little as you want, helping on land or in the water.
University of Newcastle staff member, Bronwyn Bloxham and her husband volunteered their time for the June excursion and chose to map the path of existing coral reefs. “This will allow the team to be able to go back year after year to the exact location and ensure that the quality of the data is accurate,” said Bronwyn.
“It was such a wonderful and rewarding experience that we’ll be doing this again soon,” she added.
There are two separate trips per year in June and December. In an exclusive agreement that the University has with Hideaway Island Resort and Air Vanuatu all participating members will receive airfares and transfers to Hideaway Island, seven nights’ accommodation and all meals from A$1800 per person. This offer is open to all students, but specifically those completing MARI3410, as well as staff and the general public.
To book or find out more about the December 2012 trip contact Dr Ken Zimmerman by email at Kenneth.Zimmerman@newcastle.edu.au or call (02) 4348 4127 or (0421) 594 216.